At one point, the lightning defense looked to be set with Zack Bogosian, Erik Johnson and Michael DelZotto leading a very talented young group on the back end. At this point going forward however, only DelZotto remains and with the season he's having in the nhl this year, he may actually only be the 7th d-man in Tampa next season. Zack Bogosian was moved to solidify the goaltending position for the forseeable future in get top 3 nhl goaltender Jonathan Quick and Erik Johnson was moved for some youth and help offensively. The defense does not look like we thought it would 2 years ago but here's a look at the defense and goaltending that the lightning will be icing for the 2014-2015 season:
Kevin Shattenkirk Mark Methot
This defensive pairing consists of an offensive superstar and a very good stay at home defenseman. Shattenkirk is on pace for 13 goals and 61 points while also being a great skater and DF defenseman. He is the definition of a number 1 defenseman. Mark Methot is having his best offensive start to a season in his career where he is on pace for 6 goals and 17 assists, however his role on the lightning will be the same role he has with the sens in the nhl and that is to support Shattenkirk like he does Karlsson in the nhl.
Niklas Hjalmarsson Hampus Lindholm
The second pair will consist of a couple swedish defensemen. Hjalmarsson is having a great season as the main shutdown guy in chicago while also providing a lot of production on the back end where he is on pace for 6 goals and 27 assists which would both be career highs. Hampus Lindholm is having a fantastic rookie season in Anaheim and will be in the first year of his rookie contract with tampa next year. He is on pace for 6 goals and 21 assists but is averaging just under 2 shots a game so with a couple good bounces it is not out of the question that he could reach 10 goals this season.
Brian Allen Matt Irwin
The third pair consist of a stay at home veteran defenseman and young defenseman with a booming shot. Brian Allen has 0 goals in the nhl and is on pace for 16 assists so there won't be much offense expected out of him. What he is good at though is defense, with his size and DF, he'll have an important role on PK and protect the young Matt Irwin in 5 on 5 play. Irwin is only on pace right now for 5 goals and 16 assists which isn't fantastic however he does have 71 shots in only 27 games. Once he starts getting some bounces I could easilly see him reach the 10 goal plateau and have the ratings to play some key PP minutes in Tampa next year.
Michael DelZotto Victor Bartley
Who would have ever thought that Delzotto would ever be a number 7 D in the NEFHL. Unfortunately with the season he's having in the nhl this year, that will be his likely role next year. He's got 0 points in his last 7 games and is only on pace for 5 goals and 12 assists. He could get hot in the second half of the year and get his ratings to respectibility but we as a team are not counting on it. Victor Bartley will have NHL ratings but nothing more usefull then to be a call up and fill in for injuries.
Quick is considered by almost everyone to be a top 5 goalie in the NHL and will be relied on heavilly by the lightning next season. Unfortunately, as of right now he only has a .905 save percentage and is out with an injury therefore his DU will not be great for the next couple years. He will be back relatively soon however and we are expecting him to hopefully raise that percentage and hopefully have at least an 82 OV for next season. Ramo is playing pretty well all things considered in Calgary where he has a .905 save percentage but he's only on pace to play in 36 games as of right now because the flames coach heartly has an unexplained hard on for reto berra. We are hoping he gets the majority of the starts down the stretch and can get that starter ratings but either way he's a very usefull backup at a mere 700K per year. Eddie Lack is getting his first taste of the NHL as a back behing Luongo and is doing a phenomenal job when he gets a chance to play. In 10 decisions he has 7 wins and in 13 games played he has a .929 save percentage. Because he can be sent down without going through waivers, he will be the number 3 goalie even though he may end up having better ratings then Ramo